Review: Chapterhouse Theatre Company share the magic of The Secret Garden at Bolsover Castle

Bryony Tebbut (Mary Lennox) and Matthew Christmas (Dickon) in The Secret Garden, presented by Chapterhouse Theatre Company
Bryony Tebbut (Mary Lennox) and Matthew Christmas (Dickon) in The Secret Garden, presented by Chapterhouse Theatre Company
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Outdoor theatre is very much at the mercy of the great British weather and the audience at Bolsover Castle had come prepared.

Kids wrapped up in sleeping bags and a front-row spectator filling a hot water bottle from a Thermos flask in August seemed slightly over the top - but they were the wise ones.

As night fell and the breeze picked up, it got slightly chilly watching Chapterhouse Theatre Company’s production of The Secret Garden.

The magic which the story conjured up had a bearing one element of the weather by banishing the torrential downpours which forecasters had predicted. A few spots of rain didn’t dampen anyone’s enjoyment of this beautifully-crafted show.

Puppets including a grumpy cat, a cute fox, a cheeky robin and an adorable lamb and a very real-looking little snake kept the youngsters enthralled. Parents were engrossed in a story which was initially intended for grown-ups when penned by Frances Hodgson Burnett at the beginning of the last century.

The messages of friendship and self-belief to overcome enormous hurdles in life rang out loud and clear, as did the performers’ voices which bounced off the castle walls.

Bryony Tebbut was mesmerising as the petulant spoilt brat Mary Lennox, scowling and tantruming her way through the early part of the show then growing into a smiling, warm-hearted pal thanks to the magic of the secret garden.

Luke de Bilder gave a masterclass in characterisation as Mary’s crippled cousin Colin, miserable and resigned to his disability, until the power of self-belief made him able to walk tall.

And Matthew Christmas proved a supreme puppet master, manhandling that giant cat and adding spitting, snarling, sound effects.

The Secret Garden continues its tour around the country, which includes a date at Kelham Hall, Nottinghamshire, on September 6.